Today it’s raining.  I managed to score a spot at a window table in my favorite bookstore.  The windows are tall, really tall.  I love that.  I love to be able to see a floor to ceiling view.  It helps me feel like I am outside yet I can remain comfortably inside, especially on a rainy and stormy morning such as this.  There is a peace to watching rain fall and life happen all around you.  From where I sit there is a tree directly inline of my view and a beautiful little grassy area where critters like to camp.  Not a lot of people venture out in rain and so today the store is quiet.  For most of the morning I was the only one sitting here, in this small corner of the world. I’ve been coming for three weeks straight on Thursdays.  Thursdays, for a few hours of the day at least, my little man has a class that he loves and I have my “time-out”.  I say “time-out” because for several months now life has just been pure crazy.  The phone constantly rings, the list of “to-dos” grows, and just when I think I can mark off one of those “to-dos” I discover that it’s not really off the list.  Such is the life of executing one’s affairs once they are gone.  It’s just one of the many hats in a day that I wear.  And frankly, I’m weary.  The rain outside perfectly complements this season of crazy.  That’s perhaps why every week I crave my “time-out”.  It’s a time afforded me to study, read, and to write.  Sometimes it’s necessary to get in your head in order to be able to get out of it.  Sometimes you just need that time-out to process. I certainly do.

Sacred.  That’s what I would call this rain.  Years ago before the grays were setting in I would definitely have tried running from it.  None of us like to get dumped on so naturally we pick up the pace and run for the nearest cover or exit to avoid getting wet.  No one likes pain.  It’s natural to be on alert when it rears it’s ugly head and do everything we can to avoid it.  But sometimes it can’t be avoided.  Like when someone dies.  When a mom dies.  When a dad dies.  When in all the hats you wear in a day you wake up one morning to realize that on this side of eternity, really, you can’t say you are physically a “daughter” to someone any longer.  You may belong to many people and to many things, but those two people you once biologically belonged to are gone and all you have left is the overwhelming amount of stuff you have to get rid of that won’t bring what really matters back.  And so the running stops.  Pain has knocked and the door can’t be closed. Face to face with pain lies a choice. Run or stay. I’ve chosen to stay.   The time is here, the time is now, and the time is unavoidable. There is a time for everything, as Ecclesiastes 3 outlines;

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

In “staying”, I am discovering anew just how much being willing to dance in rain and the crazy of pain can deepen the joy of beauty.  There IS beauty.  Everyday, all around us, joys to be seized, lived, and experienced.  Pain helps us appreciate beauty.  In its rugged, chipped and broken edge sort of way pain is something pretty beautiful.  It’s beautiful because if we surrender and allow it, God can transform pain into something much more amazing than we can begin to wrap our minds around.  He does the impossible everyday.  Everyday He weaves miracles and creates something extraordinary from the ash heaps of our lives.  He calls us, redeems us, claims us.  In that reality, we are never truly alone in our pain.  Never undone by it.  Rather, we are transformed through it.  We may feel lost but hear this: that awful feeling you feel is not really real, or at least, not the entire truth of it all, not by a long shot.  The reality is this:  We are never lost, forsaken or forgotten.  Not on God’s watch, not in or by God’s hands.  What we live through this side of eternity was first sifted by the hands of a God we can’t begin to comprehend waiting for us on the other side of eternity.  We are no longer orphaned; we are His, in every sense of our being, permanently grafted-in.  We have, as believers, through God’s own painful sacrifice been given eternal identity.  So really, I’m not lost, alone, or orphaned.  Not really. Not spiritually.  I NEED that truth right now like I need air to breath.  It is air actually.  Life-giving, saving air.  Truth.  It’s an anchor in the storm that strengthens the soul to not only weather the rain but be enabled to dance in it.  It’s the joy in the midst of pain.  It’s beauty for ashes.  It’s God.  All of it.  God.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion-
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”  Isaiah 61:1-3

Pain is very real.  So is God.  Focus on that second part.  If I could shout it from the rooftops loud enough to sink into your heart I would.  God is present and oh so very real.  I love, absolutely love, sunsets. It’s calm after a long crazy day.  Amazingly, when storm clouds are present and in abundance, they set up and create the perfect canvas for some of the most amazing sunsets you could ever see or imagine.  Clouds actually give something for the light to bounce off of and illuminate from.  Those ugly storm clouds actually make the light of the sun brighter, more intense, vibrant.  So let the rain not only fall, don’t just watch it, dance in it! Be brave enough to not run from pain but let it soak in, permeate and change you from the inside out. Lean into God as the anchor and dare to hope and trust that those clouds in your life are going to illuminate an unimaginable beauty. Dare to believe that there truly will be a sunset of hope to replace the smoke and ashes smoldering all about you. That’s what I’m banking on personally. Go ahead, let the pain in. I triple dog-dare you to dance in the rain.  Just don’t forget to look up while you are doing so. Remember, God’s not done yet, not by a long shot.


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